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As I pointed out in one of my other blogs, I recently went to a u-pick farm. But instead of vegetables, I brought home photographs.

The sunflowers were glorious.

But of course, I spotted the grasshopper.

Wait, why does it have its left antenna down? In the previous photograph the antennae were up.

Oh. It's walking forward. Where is it going?

Perhaps it's going to continue snacking on the sunflower petals, because that seems to be where its left antenna is aimed.

Who knew grasshoppers used their antennae for GPS?

I've probably mentioned this before, but one reason to publish blog posts like this is to have a diary of events over the seasons and years.

For example, remember the monarch caterpillar from a few weeks ago?

Now I have a record there were monarch caterpillars active the week of October 18, 2017.

Last week I discovered a newly emerged monarch butterfly drying its wings.


It was only a few feet from where I took the photograph of the caterpillar.

Wouldn't it be cool if it was the same insect? Or perhaps its one of the caterpillar's siblings?

In any case, it is a male. You can tell from the scent gland on its hind wing. It flew away shortly afterwards.

Wonder where it is this week.

Have you seen any monarchs?

At first glance, this little wasp might look like a yellow jacket.

That is, until you spot the bright orange antennae.

It is actually a European paper wasp, Polistes dominula.

The European paper wasp showed up on the East Coast of the United States in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It has been spreading across North America since.

Public domain photograph by Gary Alpert (Wikimedia)

These wasps build their paper nests out of processed wood bits. They nest under eaves and in similar areas around houses. Paper wasps are less defensive than yellow jackets, for the most part, unless a person gets close to their nest.

In contrast, the eastern yellow jacket, Vespula maculifrons, has black antennae. They nest underground and can be quite defensive if disturbed.

I'm not sure why the paper wasp in the top two photographs has a brown discoloration on the abdomen. It also looks like the wings are damaged. It was trapped inside a greenhouse, where maybe it was looking for weathered wood to build its nest? Perhaps it hurt itself trying to get out?

Have you ever seen European paper wasps where you live?